Introducing popular visual culture to blind: children Donald Duck
ANNE: Welcome to our presentation of Hier is Donald Duck introducing popular culture to blind children. The present slide shows four visually impaired children reading tactile images of Donald duck. Their facial expressions range from concentrated to obviously having fun. Keeping up with popular visual culture is crucial for understanding the world we live in and being able to have a say that world. For visually impaired children, it is difficult to understand the fun side that children have when reading comic books. Donald Duck is very popular. To keep up for these readers Dedicon develop in a specially funded project together with the Disney company and the Dutch Royal library. It is Donald Duck. This slide shows the cover with an enthusiastic Donald seeming to welcome us and maybe shout something like, hello let's start reading. In this presentation, we guide you through to the Donald Duck volume and show you our approach, deconstructing the parts and putting them together step-by-step, describing the original drawings with the help of carefully designed tactile images. The bulky binder contains text in braille with corresponding black writing in big letters, an audio CD and tactile images. The present sheet shows all these components. My name is Anne Bottenheft and I'm a specialist on image description at Dedicon in the Netherlands. Dedicon is a nonprofit organisation which makes existing text and images accessible for people with reading disabilities. Co-presenter is my colleague Dorine in 't Veld product manager, tactile reading and learning, and an expert on explaining concepts with help of tactile images. Important to address, it was never the idea to offer blind readers on the slide, we show the same readers as at the start to offer them a complete comic book of Donald Duck. The idea was to explain to blind readers official concepts of comic books and to enable them to construct a mental representation of the looks of the characters and of the imagery of the Donald Duck comic books in particular. And that is quite a challenge.
DORINE: The original images are very complex and there is perspective in each drawing. Usually, when we explain 3d subjects we use only projections straight from above, from the side and the front to avoid using perspective. As you see in this slide with examples of a cup and a mobile phone there is no distortion of angles or length of lines. So this methods called orthogonal projection respect very much the way 3d objects are discovered with the hands. But Donald is never drawn under a straight angle. Another issue, comic books have a visual language that is totally unknown to blind children. For example, they have drawings in frames with balloons, with texts. Just try to explain this without a tactile image. The blind listener will have a hard time to get a correct mental representation. Next slide. Here, you see the cover of "Lagaffe Touch" published in 2004. This was our great example. This audio tactile book was made on the occasion of an exhibition about the work of the artist Franquin who created Gaston Lagaffe. The book explains his visual language. How, for example, he shows what types of persons the characters are, what mood they are in whether they are moving and whether they are whispering or shouting and many more things. Next slide. On the first page in the centre he is drawn walking, eyes closed. Gaston's whole attitude expresses his personality. It's very relaxed. And to himself not caring about fashion and clothes. Around this central figure in six phases the head is built up. First, the outlines then with ears next with hair image four to six show other expressions and positions of the face. With each little image, comes an amusing little story. And it is explained how the artist with just a few lines manages to draw so many different expressions while the readers still easily recognises Gaston. At the end, the reader is already quite familiar with his funny anti-hero. The tone is set. Next slide, please. We showed, we followed this approach in Donald duck. The goal is to allow the reader to build a precise mental representation of the original image and to gain a good understanding of the subject. Of course, we've paid a lot of attention to the tactile images themselves, making sure that everything we described can be clearly discriminated by touch. How we did that is not the subject of this presentation. This presentation wants to stress and illustrate how we used image description with tactile support. As for the descriptions, the main goal is to bring the original subject to life in the mind of the reader. So they must be vivid and entertaining, informative, and interesting. And meantime, they guide the fingers through the tactile image, picking a logical and easy to follow route, both for the fingers and the mind. They explain what is to be seen somewhere in the original and what is left out for what is left out in the tactile image for the sake of clarity and ease of tactile reading. Next slide. We see a kid touching one of the images. Of course, this also means that the descriptions must be appealing and understandable for the targeted readers. In this case, children. When reading with children, it was great to see how they would concisely follow the explanation. And as always, when working with this type of tactile images, explaining concepts, they would start to ask questions, wanting to know more and not only about Donald and comics, but also on facial expressions, body language, and other subjects that otherwise easily escaped unnoticed. And we'll now walk you through Hier is Donald Duck illustrating how we put this into practise.
ANNE: On the left, you see tactile image on the right photo of this image in the binder. The explanation which accompanies this drawing starts with mentioning that you can feel Donald in the middle of this drawing. Donald has the size of a large hand. We also mentioned that above Donald you can feel separately four smaller tactile parts, bow tie, beak, a cap, and two eyes. We also address that he has a cheerful look on his face. And after that, we emphasised that Donald stands with his feet and arms widespread and the disposition causes enthusiastic look like he wants to shout out Tara, here I am. So in the first sentences of the explanation, we focused on the separate, tactile parts. So the children can refer to this while they are touching the figure of Donald and the various barge, which parts which surrounded him. Of course, we explain in as little words as possible the look on his face and that's the way Donald feels in this picture. This crucial information is provided in five sentences. We move on to the orange coloured beak, the left upper corner. Now present that the sheet the beak is slightly opened. We mentioned the direction of the open beak to the left like in the complete figure of Donald in the middle of this tactile drawing. I must address here that I've done the best I can to make a good translation of these images to image descriptions but nuances may get lost. However, these subtle nuances are very important. In Dutch, I explained details like an open beak but not very wide open, but wide enough to feel the point of tongue. The explanation continues. You can feel that the contours of the beak have double lines that is because this part of the body is rather solid. Should the beak be closed and not opened like in this drawing. Then the beak would be quite broad and flat. Definitely not pointed. On the top edge of the beak, you can feel a little bump. That's the nose, which is part of the beak. You could feel that the bottom edge of the beak continues all the way backwards to the spot where in human faces, eras would set off. We constantly link what you feel and the details to the central figure of Donald. We stimulate trying to find the same lines and contours in the complete figure of Donald. We give as much clues as possible to make sure your fingers are in the right place. And we add details like colour. Likewise, we introduced Daisy. In Dutch, she's called Catherine and uncle Scrooge in Dutch, the acrobatic. We introduced Daisy who for sighted attendants are shown in this slide, but who unfortunately cannot be described because we have only 25 minutes. And now I see that it's, Scrooge who is in the picture. We discuss some main features of the visual language of comics. The tactile image that is displayed in the slide shows six frames positioned like in a comic book. However, these frames do not show a story. They contain speech balloons and other scribbles which are often used by cartoonists. By the way, these examples are specific to the comic books of Donald Duck. Each comic series has its own individual drawing style and graphic language. In the explanation, accompanying this drawing we first refer to the frames the readers can sense the page layout in the comic book, how separate frames are positioned and how this results in the unique characteristic page layout of comics. I will quote another fragment from the explanation. Cartoon characters run, fall and jump. In short, they move. Cartoonist show this by applying lines and stripes around the characters. You can sense such lines and stripes in the right frame in the middle row. The artist draws a longer denser or bigger streak if Donald or Daisy make more heavy movements. And if Daisy waves softly with her hand short lines are drawn all around her hand. Another quote originating from the explanation accompanying the visual features of comics. How does the cartoonist show that the floor is wet all over? Grope the chromic frame at the very top right top on this page and try to distinguish the three separate water drops around the biggest splash in the middle the contour of the speech balloon you grope before showed a neat circle. Here you sense some more messy contour water flows in all directions after all. The present sheet shows our Donald Duck ring binder from the insight. As already mentioned, though the idea is not the blind readers will have a comic book of Donald Duck at the end of the binder. What excuse me? No, the idea is not the blind readers will have a comic book of Donald Duck. At the end of the binder the readers are offered two short comics each consisting of three scenes. Just for the fun of it. In the first story Donald asked Daisy if she thinks he is pretty. Well, Daisy said, "Yes, pretty arrogant." In the second story uncle Scrooge tells Donald he found a cheap solution for delivering packages. Donald looks at him expecting good news. It appears uncle Scrooge wants Donald to deliver them. Donald is very frustrated. The slide at the moment shows the tactile image of the first scene of the first story. The explanation that goes with it follows I will read the explanation. Donald and Daisy are standing next to each other in the room. Donald is on the left leaning against the wall. Daisy is on the right. The wall near Donald has a striped pattern and is cut off by the boundaries of the frame. Therefore, this cartoon image only shows a small part of the wall. Donald is leaning against the wall with one hand, the other's position in his flank. He looks self-confident two feet on the floor. One knee is a bit bended. Actually the short legs of Donald and Daisy are without knees. Yet, they always stand with a little legs bended. Maybe you recognise Donald by his bare feet or his sailor jacket with a two golden buttons on the front and the red bow tie on the chest. In this picture, he doesn't wear his sailor cap. His eyes are half closed. The eyelid's just above the eye pupil. Donald is looking at Daisy like he's a little bit in love. In this quote, we focused on the expression and emotion of the main characters. The ambience of the picture, the exact posture and position of the characters combined with an attempt of spacial awareness. Crucial is the combination of tactile experience and explanation. And not in the least it runs and recognition. The explanations constantly refer to details. The buttons, the bow tie, the details the readers have sensed before namely the large drawings on the main characters and in the so-called splash drawing with the main visual features of comics. While reading the smaller booklet with the two short comics and while having fun hopefully, the reader can grab to those basic drawings if needed. By the way the present sheet shows a detail originated from a tactile drawing from one of the short comics. We see an angry Donald duck with tornado figurations above his head. Now the readers know what the cartoonist tries to communicate with these tornadoes. Donald is very angry and frustrated at this moment. The ultimate intention of the ring bind the Hier is Donald Duck is of course experiencing fun in reading a comic. But like I mentioned at the opening of this presentation the intention is also giving the readers an opportunity to keep up with a dominant visual culture we live in. To have a clue of the looks of the iconic characters that decorate the lunchboxes and backpacks of your schoolmates and other peers. Well, we hope you have enjoyed our presentation. If you feel inspired to translate Hier is Donald Duck or make, excuse me, if you feel inspired to translate Hier is Donald Duck or make something similar be sure to contact the Disney Publishing House in your country. Copyrights are an issue. And if you have questions or remarks after this presentation, please contact us annebottenheft, with a T at the end. And Dorineintveld, with a D at the end our email addresses are shown in the slide our full names without capitals or spaces @dedicon.nl. Thank you very much for your attention. (upbeat music)